Meet the commercial brokers making bank in Miami

Dealmakers are having a career-best year. Here are some of the standouts

Rendering of 830 Brickell office tower; Cushman & Wakefield's Brian Gale, JLL's Manny De Zárraga, Avison Young's Donna Abood, Dwntwn Realty Advisors' Tony Arellano and Stephen Rutchik. (Credit: OKO Group and Cain International, JLL, CW, Dwntwn Realty Advisors, Cushman & Wakefield, Avison Young, Getty, 830 Brickell)
Rendering of 830 Brickell office tower; Cushman & Wakefield's Brian Gale, JLL's Manny De Zárraga, Avison Young's Donna Abood, Dwntwn Realty Advisors' Tony Arellano and Stephen Rutchik. (Credit: OKO Group and Cain International, JLL, CW, Dwntwn Realty Advisors, Cushman & Wakefield, Avison Young, Getty, 830 Brickell)

When Brian Gale took on 830 Brickell four years ago, he felt pretty good about his chances of getting it leased.

The 55-story tower being developed by Vlad Doronin’s OKO Group and Jonathan Goldstein’s Cain International will be the neighborhood’s first standalone Class-A project in roughly a decade, so there were no rivals to worry about. Plus, rent and occupancy numbers were on the up.

Fast forward to today and Gale’s prognosis has gone from “pretty good” to “a given.” More than 70 percent of the building is spoken for, and additional tenants are in play, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

“Covid hit and then it [the market] just went on steroids,” said Gale, of Cushman & Wakefield. “We have never seen that much demand increase so quickly. It was unheard of.”

The national commercial real estate market has had a big question mark on it, but try telling that to Miami: The city has attracted blue-chip finance and technology firms at a record-setting pace, and brokers, above all others, are giddy.

They went from closing deals in months to closing them in weeks. They went from quoting roughly $60 a square foot in rent to quoting over $100 a foot.

The influx, Gale said, has left office leasing brokers to tackle the equivalent of 15 years worth of demand over roughly 18 months

“And it’s continuing,” he said.

So who else, aside from Gale, is raking it in? The Real Deal dug in to find out.

JLL’s Brickell binge

JLL’s Manny De Zárraga, Hermen Rodriguez, Matthew McCormack, Eric Williams, Maurice Habif and Danny Finkle closed three Brickell deals since the spring.

First came the $363 million trade of the 2.5-acre bayfront development site at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive. Billionaire Ken Griffin’s hedge fund Citadel has been reported as the buyer. Griffin has announced that Citadel and financial services firm Citadel Securities will move their headquarters along Brickell Bay in Miami from Chicago.

The deal closed at $145 million per acre. It broke the previous record of $236 million, or $16 million per acre, set in the 2011 trade of the Miami Herald’s former bayfront site in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District.

JLL also helped Rockpoint reap its Brickell bonanza by selling its 1221 Brickell Avenue office tower for $286.5 million and Shops at Mary Brickell Village for $216 million.

Cushman digs in Downtown

Dominic Montazemi, Miguel Alcivar, Mike Davis, Mike McDonald and Adam Spies closed four downtown Miami office trades.

The Citigroup Center, Miami Tower and 100 Biscayne came to market in early 2020. Given that it was the peak of the pandemic, they languished on the market. Then, last spring, Monarch Alternative Capital, an investment fund headquartered in New York, bought Citigroup Center for $300 million.

Aby Rosen’s New York based firm RFR Holding paid $81.1 million for 100 Biscayne in January, and a joint venture of CP Group and DRA Advisors paid $163.5 million the following month for the Miami Tower.

The team also closed the deals for the Courthouse Tower at 44 West Flagler Street and the 10-story 200 Southeast First Street. Triple Double Real Estate and Stonerock Capital Partners paid a combined $56.7 million for the properties in May.

Cushman, Part II

Robert Given, Troy Ballard and Zachary Sackley take the cake for the biggest single-asset multifamily deal in South Florida since at least 2015.

The trio sold the ParkLine Miami apartment towers at Brightline’s downtown Miami station for $450 million in March.

Jordan Slone’s Harbor Group International bought the towers perched atop the MiamiCentral train stop from the developer, Florida East Coast Industries. New York-based Cammeby’s International Group, Miami Beach-based AB Asset Management and Image Capital partnered on the purchase.

Cushman, Part III

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Gale, of Cushman, has been leasing 830 Brickell with colleagues Ryan Holtzman and Andrew Trench.

They just scored Griffin’s Citadel as a tenant for roughly 95,000 square feet, marking the tower’s biggest lease, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Other tenants will be Microsoft, private equity firm Thoma Bravo, financial services firm A-CAP, Marsh & McLennan Companies’ insurance arm, Marsh, and law firm Sidley Austin.

Read more

From left: One Flagler in West Palm Beach, 830 Brickell in Brickell, and Eighteen Sunset in Miami Beach (Getty, Related Southeast, LoopNet, Koniver Stern Group)
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Citadel’s Ken Griffin and the former Neiman Marcus building at 151 Worth Avenue in Palm Beach (Citadel, Google Maps)
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Related's Stephen Ross, Swire's Kieran Bowers and a rendering of One Brickell City Centre (Getty, Swire Properties)
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Swire, Stephen Ross’ Related plan Florida’s tallest commercial tower in Miami’s Brickell

The brokers are also tying up deals at Nuveen Real Estate’s 701 Brickell, where they’ve pulled in financial giant Apollo Capital Management and British-American insurance firm Aon.

Avison Young takes on Brickell

Donna Abood and Mark Robbins first brought CI Financial to 830 Brickell late last year for a roughly 20,000-square-foot lease. In January, they helped CI double its space, which will be the Canadian asset manager’s new U.S. headquarters.

Abood, along with Joe Abood, also placed tenants in more suburban county office markets. In March, they represented Sandals Resorts-affiliated Unique Vacations in its 53,000-square-foot lease at the Waterford Business District near Miami International Airport.

The Aboods, along with David Herbert, brought medical research company Evolution Research Group to a 75,000-square-foot space at the Quattro Miami office complex in western Miami-Dade.

Blanca spreads its wings countywide

Tere Blanca’s Blanca Commercial Real Estate represented Blockchain in a 22,000-square-foot office lease at Cube Wynwd and WeWork in a 32,000-square-foot lease at Wynwood Garage.

They also scored Swatch Group as a tenant at Nuveen and Allianz Real Estate’s 800 Waterford Way building at the Waterford Business District in April.

The team also represented the Spanish investors who own the 150 Alhambra building in Coral Gables in four new lease deals:. Hermès Parfum, Regal Rexnord, law firm Sugarman Susskind Braswell & Herrera and consulting firm PRI Management Group

Colliers gets in on the action

Stephen Rutchik and Tom Farmer are leasing R&B Realty Group’s The Gateway at Wynwood.

So far, they’ve brought in San Francisco-based tech firm Ripple, renewable energy company Spearmint Energy and Marcus & Millichap.

E-commerce startup OpenStore – backed by venture capital heavyweights Peter Thiel and Keith Rabois’ Founders Fund, and Jack Abraham’s Atomic – has a 40,000-square-foot office at the building.

Dwntwn Realty welcomes the techies

The brokerage’s Tony Arellano and his team can tell you all about Silicon Valley’s influx to Wynwood.

Founders Fund and Atomic were among the first new-to-market firms to hone in on the Miami neighborhood. They took 22,000 square feet at the Wynwood Annex in March of last year.

Arellano represented Wynwood Annex’s developers, Related Group and East End Capital, also closing deals with New York-based Ramp Financial, psychedelic therapy company Field Trip Health and mobile payments platform Play2Pay.

Arellano’s quick work didn’t go unnoticed.

In March, San Francisco-based Brick & Timber Collective made its South Florida office market debut, paying $49 million for the building.

In case you’re wondering, Arellano, along with Dwntwn Realty’s Devlin Marinoff, also closed that deal.